GFMC: Brazil

Firesin Brazil and Bolivia

17 September 2004

Latest Satellite Scenes from Earthobservatory

(Images based on data from the MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA-GSFC)

Fires Near Bolivia-Brazil Border
A thick veil of smoke covered much of South America on September 14, 2004, as intense fires continued to burn in western Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Such widespread fires are not natural in the humid, tropical environment, and these were probably started to clear land for agriculture. As this image demonstrates, local agricultural fires can have a long reach. The smoke inhibits cloud formation and rainfall, which can impact a large area. In this case, the smoke is drifting northwest along the east side of the Andes Mountains, traveling well over a thousand kilometers from its point of origin. To learn more about the effects of fires in the Amazon, please read “From Forest to Field: How Fire is Transforming the Amazon.” To learn more about the impact of smoke on clouds and the energy balance of the Amazon, please read “Clouds are Cooler than Smoke.”
This image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on both the Aqua and the Terra satellites. The image is a mosaic of five separate granules (the data collected during a five minute period), and as such, shows a much larger area than a single MODIS scene. The large image provided above has a resolution of 500 meters per pixel. A closer view of the fires taken during a single Aqua overpass is available from the MODIS Rapid Response Team.


Carbon Monoxide over South America

Slash-and-burn agriculture converting forest to farm land may pose the biggest threat to the Amazon ecosystem. Fires are numerous and widespread along the margin of the Amazon Rainforest during the height of the dry season, which occurs around the months June to August. The intense burning produces a large amount of carbon monoxide (CO) that is detected by the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra.
The above image shows the CO mixing ratio over South America in the middle of Earth’s lower level of atmosphere (or “troposphere” at about 500 millibars), measured by MOPITT during the period from September 1-10, 2004. Red and yellow colors indicate the high levels of CO originating from the fires in the region and low CO concentrations are denoted in blue shades. Gray areas indicate missing data due to prevailing cloudy conditions.
The image above correlates very well with Terra and Aqua MODIS images showing fires and smoke in South America during this same time period.

See the following media articles:

Maps with a summary of the occurence of vegetation fires in Brazil and in most of South America are prepared and released by CPTEC/INPE in the Internet soon after the overpasses of the NOAA-series meteorological satellites, whose AVHRR images are used in the detection. Source:

Each red dot in the map shows a pixel with temperatures of some hundred degrees C, normally associated only to active fires. The table on the right side of the map shows the total number of fire pixels dectected by state and by country, with the percentage corresponding to the cloud cover in each region, where the detection of fires was precluded.
Geographical coordinateos of all vegetation fires detected in the AVHRR/NOAA images are available at CPTEC/INPE, and are distributed in near-real-time to registered users. Furhter information can be obtained with, or in the phone number ++55(12)560-9261.

For more information, also in portugese, see the webpage:

Additionally PROARCO (Programa de Prevenção e Controle de Queimadas e Incêndios Florestais na Amazônia Legal) is providing a daily update at: See the Boletim Diário de Monitoramento de Focos de Calor – Amazônia Legal, 03 August 2004.

For more details see daily fire situation updates of Brazil and neighbouring countries:

More information on “Queimadas“

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